The Media’s Meme: Obama’s Too Distracted

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Is Barack Obama “trying to do too much”? It’s been a topic on the morning talk shows and again today.

For an example, see this video from The Page by Mark Halperin.

Halperin is joined by Louis Burgdorf from MSNBC who says this question of distraction is a big deal and suggests that if Obama put other things aside it will “restore confidence in the consumer.” Halperin asks Bergdorf if Obama should cancel today’s stem cell event. Bergdorf says no, citing it as an important issue and noting that his stepmother has MS.

The whole conversation seemed slightly ridiculous, if you ask me. Presidents obviously do more than one thing at a time. No one asked Reagan to ignore the Cold War and focus on the recession.

Yes, a president can wander too far afield. If Obama suddenly devoted significant energy to a border dispute between Columbia and Venezuela or a revamp of the Law of the Sea Treaty that would be a distraction from the pressing matters facing the country. But to sign an executive order reversing George W. Bush on stem cells and to do an event publicizing the new order seems eminently reasonable in a country where so many are looking to embryonic stem cell research to improve their lives. And, of course, many of the things that may seem like a distraction–health care, green energy–are inextricably linked to the economic health of the country. You can disagree with Obama’s policies but to talk about distraction seems like a misunderstanding of what presidents do. Send in examples you see of the “distracted” meme.

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